American Legion wants name removed and donations returned from veterans memorial park
CHATSWORTH, GA (WRCB) -
Brick by brick the American Legion Post 167 is demanding its name and associations be removed from the Murray County Veterans Memorial Park.
The group was once a helping hand in building the Chatsworth park, but now wants nothing to do with it, saying many of the memorial bricks honoring veterans were labeled incorrectly.
Members of the American Legion Post 167 tell said they started noticing problems with the engraved bricks back in 2010 when the Memorial Park was created.
"The legion is asking that their name be removed from anything in the park," said American Legion member Bruce Kendrick, "And that the money they donated to the park be returned to the American Legion."
A letter outlining their requests, signed by the Commander of American Legion Post 167, was sent to the Murray County Commissioner early September.
"Since I sent the letter to the commissioner," said Commander Larry Morrison, "I have heard nothing from the Commissioner's office."
American Legion members said they helped fund the park by donating $10,000 to the memorial, and The Legion Riders donated another $2,500 toward a monument and bench.
The legion wants a refund in all donations because, they say, some bricks were not engraved properly. Kendrick said some of the achievements listed under a soldier's name are not even possible.
"The soldier received three bronze service stars," said Kendrick, pointing to an engraved brick, "There is no such thing as an award that says three bronze service stars."
He explained a distinction, and often confusion, between a Bronze Star and a Bronze Service Star. The Bronze Star is awarded for valor, meritorious service and achievement, while the Bronze Service Star denotes the participation in a military campaign or battle.
It is very rare for even the most decorated veterans, Kendrick said, to be awarded multiple Bronze Stars.
The Murray County Veterans Memorial Committee is in charge of fact-checking the information before each brick is engraved.
"It is their responsibility to verify the information, it's their responsibility to tell the family or the third party purchaser if the information they're claiming is incorrect," Kendrick said, "And its their responsibility not to put it on the brick if its not correct."
Members of the original Veterans Memorial Committee said all of the bricks that were once labeled wrong have been fixed.
"They say there's 36 more names that are incorrect," said committee member Joe Harrison, "We have asked the commander for those names and he has refused to show us or give us a copy of that."
"There's nothing that's going in that park that is not correct." Harrison adds.
Murray County Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman said the Veterans Memorial Committee is a volunteer committee, formed under the previous commissioner's administration, and is not constituted by the Murray County Government.
She said she created a review committee with two members of the American Legion, two members of the Veterans Memorial Committee, and four other members to try and come to a compromise.
This was after she took the position as County Commissioner, but before the American Legion sent her office the letter.
Pittman said she is currently looking over the letter to see if there is anything the government can do legally regarding the naming rights and donations made to the Veterans Memorial Committee by the American Legion Post 167.